After a very exciting summer of being named as a recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and enjoying all the ensuing celebrations, this week the day finally arrived for us to officially receive the much-coveted award!
On Tuesday, nine smartly-dressed representatives from the Archive, including staff, volunteers, and one of our nominators, Dennis Coombes of Upminster Windmill, made our way down to Reading Town Hall to attend the Lord Lieutenant’s Presentation Ceremony.
The ceremony took place in the 18th century Victoria Hall, an Italianate-styled chamber complimenting the Towns Hall’s Victorian façade, which was designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The regal décor of the room and the uniformed army cadet standing to attention inside certainly made us feel like very important guests!
As well as several assorted dignitaries being in attendance, including the Lord Lieutenant’s Deputy Lieutenants and the mayor and mayoress of Reading, there were the five other organisations who were receiving the award alongside us: Maidenhead and District Stroke Club, Paving the Way, Reading Refugee Support Group, Sport in Mind and Wargrave Girl’s Football Club. Their citations were each read out by one of the Deputy Lieutenants, and it was inspiring to hear about the fantastic work these charities are doing in Berkshire, as well as humbling to know that we are counted amongst them as an organisation trailblazing the way in voluntary services.
Also accepting awards on the day were two recipients of the British Empire Medal, both of whom have performed and instigated exceptional work in their communities and who present an impressive example to individuals in their charitable duties.
When the Mills Archive was called out, Mildred, our Founder and Trustee, Nathanael our Archivist and Tom Hine, one of our long-standing volunteers, went up to accept the award from the Lord Lieutenant, James Puxley, and shake his hand. They were presented with a framed certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen, and an exquisite crystal trophy engraved with the Queen’s Award emblem, in a royal purple display box.
After the ceremony and photographs had taken place, we were treated to a delicious spread of jam, cream and mint scones with tea and coffee whilst we mingled with the other award winners in the hall. One (or five) selfies might have also been taken, posing with the award in front of the elegant backdrop of the room!
The certificate and trophy are now displayed in pride of place in our library, standing as proud reminders of the wonderful work that our volunteers do in the Archive. They really are the lifeblood of our organisation, and we are continually grateful for their skills, enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment which are fundamental in allowing us to continue our mission to preserve, protect and promote records of milling heritage.